Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)
Three cheers for another Hammer horror film that moves slower than lymph from a decapitated torso! (Er… I HEARD it moves slow. Yeah, that’s it). Despite one of Peter Cushing’s more spectacular performances for Hammer, Frankenstein Creates Woman needs a viewer who has a lot of patience. Perhaps someone who chooses to watch Dance with Wolves in slow motion. Someone not like me.
There was absolutely nothing wrong with the story. In fact, it was rather unique. Hans is a man who is falsely accused for the death of his girlfriend‘s (Christina), father. When he is put to death, Christina commits suicide. Dr. Frankenstein (played by Cushing) recovers both of their bodies and puts Hans’s soul in Christina’s chest (for reasons unbeknownst to anyone who passed 3rd grade science lab). Now Christina, very much alive, is having flashbacks of Hans and wants to seeks revenge. Very creative story. Very poorly executed. This is not the fault of the director. It’s the fault of the writers. There was entirely too much meaningless set up in the beginning of the film that took away from the good stuff. Quite a bummer, because this really could have been quite a spectacular movie.
My main issue is that absolutely nothing in the film happens in the first 45 minutes. Really... nothing. We barely even see Dr. Frankenstein. After the execution of Hans, the story gains momentum but still stalls like an old rust bucket until it finally smoothes itself out in the last half hour. However, these last few minutes are so wonderfully executed that it almost makes up for the poor start. Almost. In reality, it just succeeded in irritating me by showing me how fine of a film this could have been.
The movie was not a total loss. The film’s mood was pretty much right on the money, and I have never heard such an appropriate movie score in all of Hammer Films. There was definitely moments of well-executed creepiness (pretty much any time the guillotine was eluded to. This was when I ceased yawning). Peter Cushing, though highly underutilized in the first half, gave a powerhouse performance. I’ve always preferred his Frankenstein to Colin Clive’s as he brings a scrumptiously eerie condescension to the role. Also, the strikingly beautiful Susan Denberg had serious acting skills. She was debonair, innocent, and evil all at the same time. I’m always very impressed by any Hammer girl who has talent (as they so often don’t), but with her, I went beyond impressed. She was straight out brilliant. I’m personally going to catch more of her films.
I can recommend this film just on the presumption of “be patient - it does get better.“ The good parts are:
1) Peter Cushing is in it, playing one of his best roles as Dr. von Frankenstein.
2) Very cool spin on the Frankenstein story, with a nice “left turn” at the end.
3) Occasionally, it is very effective.
The bad parts are:
1) It was SLOOOOOOOOOW.
2) It didn’t have to be so SLOOOOOOOOOOW.
If you are more patient than me, give it a shot. Hell, I may even give it a shot again - providing I have about 45 minutes of vacuuming to get done while the first half is running. An important film for Peter Cushing, Frankenstein, and Hammer completeists but optional viewing for anyone else. This is the ultimate of “it was all right... but, damn, it could have been great” films.